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- 8 Mar 2010

Solidarity within a Competitive Environment

Has the explosion of social media business strategies across our sector been triggered by the crisis? Hervé de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, the director of sales at the Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris, thinks so.


I started 14 years ago in the hospitality industry at the Hotel Lutetia, which was at that time the first and only palace hotel on the Left Bank of Paris. Currently, I’m the director of sales at the Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris, which is part of the Dorchester Collection. My duty here is to expand the notoriety of the hotel and its sister properties across our local and international markets.


The HNWI client that we all share in the luxury industry was hit hard by the financial crisis and, as a result, it’s still impacting our sales. Because it often meant reassessing how we spend our marketing budgets, this new environment ultimately provided some valuable opportunities for luxury brands to work together in order to offer multiple experiences to the clients we have in common. The development of luxury communities and their popularity among the industry is, I think, a direct result of this crisis and a great motor for the forward expansion of our business connections and relationships.

The web and social media are a great complement to traditional media and they help us benchmark our competitors. They also offer a broad view on how the luxury market is transforming itself around the world. We can use widgets to be more visible and have a constant link with our clients. We’re also in contact with local experts in our various fields through the blogging community to help us improve our products and to test our innovations. Communication is becoming so much easier with social networks. They’re efficient tools and channels that allow us to interact directly with our customers.

Take the new website that we’re creating for our younger clients, www.veryimportantchildren.com Thanks to the network at Luxury Society, we were able to find new partners to create international events and original co-brandings for this niche segment. We also managed to form a partnership for two private parties that we organized at our Bar at the Plaza Athénée with a company that we met through Luxury Society. I also use their newsletter which is a great source of articles on different luxury sectors around the world and on companies we are working with.

Luxury must be a balance between history and tradition with a mix of innovation and contemporary style. At the Plaza Athénée, we like to call ourselves, “Once upon a time the palace of tomorrow” as our clients are looking for a happy balance between the classical style of our product and the innovation we brought to facilities like our bar, restaurants, spa and so on. Online websites and networks are a way to communicate the tradition behind our brand while also presenting ourselves as creatively and innovatively as possible.

The next big step in this area will be an even closer connectivity between clients and brands. It will give clients the opportunity to really personalize their products and allow brands the opportunity to interact with their clients to better know what they want now and to forecast what their desires will be tomorrow.


Hervé de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, Director of Sales, Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris